Monday, October 27, 2014

Great News!!! Birth Control for the Mares

Our two older mares that live with Thunder have been producing foals once a year and they are both presently pregnant .Thunder cannot be gelded as he is too old and would bleed out.  We can't separate the mares from him because he would break the fence down to get to them.  So we have been looking for a solution to this dilemma for sometime.

We learned about a birth control vaccine called PZP, porcine zona pellucid, that can be darted into the mares. Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick and his team at The Science and Conservation Center in Billings Montana have been instrumental in helping us.  You must be licensed and trained to use the dart gun and vaccine at the center.  So they referred us to a lovely lady Deniz  Bolbol from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. She lives south of San Francisco, and generously drove all the way up here to dart our two mares on October 11th.  Here she is preparing to dart one of the mares.

It all  went very smoothly.  We fed the small herd and the girls were darted while they were eating and  there was no big fuss on their part!  They will get 2 more  booster darts  in the spring and next summer.  After that they will be darted with the vaccine once a year for 5 years.  At which point they should be able to produce their own birth control.  The success rate is 90% and since these ladies are over 20 I expect that there will no more babies after these two foals are born.  They can be darted any time during their cycle.

Mike Dinning, our good friend and pinto assistant, went to Montana for a week to participate in the training.  He is now licensed and will be darting the mares in the future.  We also plan to dart the mares on this property just as a precaution.  These mares live with geldings but if Thunder should by accident get over here, we would be increasing this herd!

Here is a list of  the wild horses that PZP is helping:
The vaccine has been used successfully to manage the wild horse population of Assateague Island National Seashore under the authority of the National Park Service (NPS). being treated on Cape Lookout National Seashore for the NPS, on Carrot Island, for the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Reserve, and on Corolla Island, both
in NC, the Pryor Mountain and Little Book Cliff National Wild Horse Ranges, MT and CO, respectively, the McCullough Peaks wild horse range in WY, on many areas of Nevada, Utah, Oregon for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on the Carson National Forest, for the National Forest Service, on several wild horse sanctuaries, and on the Navaho and Pima/Maricopa Indian Reservations in NM and AZ. I

For more information including the science of the vaccine please check out THE SCIENCE  AND CONSERVATION CENTER website AT

I am so grateful to Deniz and Dr. Kirkpatrick for all their help!! It is such a relief for the mares not to have future babies so they can quietly live out the rest of their lives without any responsibility. Plus I am delighted not to have more horses coming  as we have plenty!

Deniz with the dart gun

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Changes at the Pinto Ranch

In the past month we have brought over two colts from next door. Mystery came first when he was 10 months old so that he could be gelded. Then we brought over Saunder even though he is younger because his mother, Mama was looking very thin and she needs to be able to rest and gain weight without having a colt to nurse. She makes beautiful babies but she teaches them bad habits, such as being pushy.  We felt Saunder would be better off learning better manners at a young age.  It is a delight to have these two colts here and they have joined the herd fairly easily.

We have a wonderful and awesome  new trainer, Karyn Shirly, of Purple Sage Equine in Nevada. She is devoted to the methods of Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannamn. Our horses feel very comfortable with her and she accomplished a lot in four days.  She worked with Kendra and Lil' (Little) One who really appreciated her gentle manner. She halter trained Mystery and assisted during his gelding. She helped Majestic and me improve our ground work skills and she also did body work on Suki to help him get out of pain.

Karyn is really adept at reading the  body language of the horse and this came in very handy when bringing Saunder over, even though Thunder was standing right next to him! She timed it just right so Thunder would not come through the gate as well.  She does a lot of research on horses and their health and gave us some very helpful suggestions.  We all had a very rewarding time, plus lots of laughter!

Our vet  Dr.John Fling has retired and so we  found another very qualified vet, Dr. Rich Brazil who comes from Ukiah.  We really appreciate his willingness to drive so far to help out the pintos. He had seen the herd in the past when they lived next door with a previous owner.  I think he was pleased to see how happy and healthy they are now.

We are very excited that the pintos have such a great new team!!!

Kendra took this photo of Karyn and Lil' One.  He looks very calm and attentive!

Kendra's photo of Mystery and Karyn during the halter gentling.

Karyn working with Mystery the  day after he was gelded.

 Saunder the morning we brought him over - he is running up the hill 
to find his new herd.

I took this photo of Mama yesterday. She was running very free - I
have never seen her run so fast!! Go Girl!

Video of Thunder's Herd

This video was shot before we brought Mystery and Saunder over to the ranch herd. Polka Dot
is in the lead followed by Mystery, Saunder, Mama and Thunder brings up the rear.

Sweetie and Liberty

It has always been a dream of mine to be with the horses without ropes and halters. So I was/am delighted to have discovered Liberty Foundations online.  Ruella Yates teaches the foundations in Oklahoma and also in an online course. This method enhances the love and respect between horse and human and it doesn't matter which  previous training method that you have used with your horse. 

In the first class you learn six foundations - sitting and walking meditation;greeting; walking a horse down; look at me;staking a claim and go and come to me.

The first foundation is meditating with your horse ( you can draw or read instead) in an area where you leave him a small amount of food and water. The point is to let the horse come to you on his own time, respect your space and you show him that you respect his.

The first time I did meditation with Sweetie, at the end I looked out at the herd, and they were all meditating with us...they were all standing and facing in the same direction - looking at the ocean.
Resting, yes, but I have never seen them all standing and facing the same way.  Usually some are grazing or laying down.

It took Sweetie awhile to catch on that I wanted to him come up to me and face me.  He thought it would be more fun to show me his butt.  The last session he was my star!  Came over and stood beside me the whole time, either facing me or side ways.  I am so proud of him and he stayed for a long time.
Below are some earlier photos:

After mediation - an improvement here as he is close to me...

He gets it - is near me and facing me.

I have "meditated" individually with Majestic, Moonbeam, Suki, Chie and Mystery.  They are a lot calmer afterwards and often don't want to leave me and go back out to the pasture and herd. Since there are so many horses I have decided to work with I have not finished all the foundations yet. Sweetie is my main horse for the class,  I have done more of the foundations with him.  I find the mediation with each of them so powerful that I want to do that with every horse.

The third foundation walking down was a lot of fun.  I first started doing it with Sweetie in the holding pen.  One day I had haltered him to take him down to check on Mystery who we had brought over from Thunder's herd that morning.  Mystery was fine and after walking Sweetie up the hill, I decided to take his halter off so he could run and keep up with the rest of the herd eating hay.
Instead he stayed with me walked, stopped and backed up when I did; all without a halter.  I was so delighted and he did this until we got to the hay which was quite a distance. 

The horses and I are enjoying a different way to be together, which I find fun and at times quite profound.

Here is a  quote from Ruella's  webiste 
"Inspired by Native American and Old West traditions of her home on the Great Plains, Ruella works to establish loving communication and respect with horses, using their own language to create deep connection between horses and the people who love them,  increasing the well-being of both."

You can check out more about  Liberty Foundations Training at